Egyptian Ali Abdo is hoping to promote sustainability while setting a world record for the longest electric motorcycle ride in his journey to Cop27, the UN climate summit being held in Sharm El Sheikh in November.
The environmental activist, who has set two Guinness World Records, plans to cover nearly 20,000 kilometres and all of Egypt’s 27 governorates during his “Ride to Cop27”.
Mr Abdo will criss-cross the country, starting at Abu Simbel in Upper Egypt and finishing in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El Sheikh.
“I personally believe that knowledge can save us,” Mr Abdo, 37, told The National. "The first step is to know there’s a problem. And that’s what I’m trying to show during this trip: the impacts of climate change and the small steps that we can take."
The drive, supported by the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will begin on October 1 and take about a month.
Cop27 takes place from November 6 to 18.
Mr Abdo said the main goals of the journey are to document the effects of climate change on societies through collecting stories, to spread awareness on how people can decrease their own carbon footprints and to encourage youth to come up with solutions.
The “Ride to Zero” hackathon, an online competition that runs simultaneously with the trip, will select the best ideas to combat climate change from five Egyptian cities: Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, Suez and Tanta.
While covering more than 500km per day, Mr Abdo will visit schools, universities, villages and government offices in an effort to promote his message of sustainability.
“It’s like a framework connecting people together,” he said.
Mr Abdo, who works as a corporate social responsibility manager at IBM, has not always been an environmental activist.
The man from Alexandria has a passion for motorbikes and in 2013 started touring Egypt to learn more about his homeland. In 2016, he drove nearly 6,000km over the course of seven days.
He set his first Guinness World Record in 2017 for the greatest distance on a motocross bike in 24 hours, riding more than 600km in El Gouna on the Red Sea.
In 2019, he began to shift his focus to building awareness of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and became a sustainability ambassador through a programme with the Egyptian Ministry of Planning and Economic Development.
While he had a certain attachment to motorbike culture and the sound of revving the engine, he recognised he needed to abandon his old ways.
“I can’t do something associated with the environment when I’m riding a gas motorcycle, so I changed to an e-motorcycle,” he said.
In September 2021, he set his second Guinness World Record, this time the greatest distance on an electric motorcycle in 24 hours. He covered nearly 920km in New Alamein on the Mediterranean coast.
Ride to Cop27 will attempt to break two world records: the world’s longest journey on an electric motorcycle and longest electric motorcycle journey in a single country.
The first record stands at 12,379km, set by an Italian entrepreneur who rode through 11 countries from Shanghai, China to Milan, Italy in July 2013.
Owning an electric motorcycle in the Middle East is rare, which makes it “attract people’s attention”, Mr Abdo said.
He recognises that not everyone can make the switch from petrol or diesel cars and motorcycles to electric, but people can find other ways to reduce emissions, such as using public transport, bicycles or scooters.
“The core issue of climate actions is financing,” he said. "No one can finance everything we need, but we can transform individual behaviour to get an impact. That’s my vision."